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Comments by YACCS
Friday, July 30, 2004

Carjacking in Iraq, what's next, street gangs?

Get out the truck, leave the McDonald's in the car. The US Army moves from robbery and the odd sexual assault to carjacking.

GI convicted of carjacking in Iraq

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Kimberly Hefling

July 30, 2004 | FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) -- A military jury found a soldier guilty of armed robbery Thursday for taking an Iraqi sheik's sport utility vehicle at gunpoint, but concluded he did not deserve prison.

The panel also convicted Sgt. 1st Class James Williams of willful dereliction of duty for allowing his soldiers to consume alcohol in Iraq.

Williams, 37, of rural Westmoreland County, Va., maintains he helped take the SUV only because his lieutenant ordered him to procure a vehicle and because he did not think it was a criminal act, but the prosecution alleged he was simply after a "sweet ride.''

Williams, a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division, declined to comment to reporters after the ruling, but his civilian defense attorney, Bernard Casey, said he plans to appeal.

"Where was the evidence this constituted a crime?'' Casey said.

The jury recommended a reduction in rank to private and a bad conduct discharge, but no prison time. The commanding general of the 101st, Maj. Gen. Tom Turner, will decide Williams' sentence.

With tears rolling down his face when the sentence was read, Williams put his chin down and nodded his head back and forth. The prosecution had recommended a four-year prison term.

"We're lucky that he got this sentence,'' said Williams' wife, Kim. "It could have been a lot worse.''

Said his sister, Russell Perry: "At least he won't be going back to Iraq.''


Williams also testified he saw commanders drinking alcohol in Iraq and thought it was OK, but Hoege said just because Williams saw others drinking, that did not make it right.

Another soldier, Alberto Lozano, was convicted earlier in the case and sentenced to 30 months in prison, but the sentence was reduced to one year because he testified against Williams. He was released recently after serving about nine months at Fort Knox. Pavlik, the lieutenant, faces a court-martial starting Aug. 9.

So sticking a gun in the face of an Iraqi and stealing his car isn't a crime? Lying about it isn't a crime? But the telling comment is from the sister, happy he won't go back to Iraq.

All manner of crime is surfacing in Iraq. Soldiers pushing suspects off a bridge, theft of property. Abu Ghraib is the surface of a rotting Army, pushed beyond it's capacity and ability. Carjacking? A 37 year old sargeant carjacking an Iraqi? Jesus. What the hell is going on there. I have no illusions about soldiers and their capacity for crime, petty and large. But carjacking? Jesus.

posted by Steve @ 12:44:00 PM

12:44:00 PM

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